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Judge warned last year that accused Colorado bar gunman planned shooting spree: “It’s going to get very bad”

A judge who dismissed the 2021 kidnapping case against the accused colorado gay nightclub shooter warned last year that the defendant was hoarding weapons and planning shootings, and that he needed mental health treatment or “it’s about to get much worse.”

Comments made by Judge Robin Chittam last August are contained in court documents obtained by The Associated Press. They add warning signs about Anderson Aldrich’s increasingly violent behavior prior to the November 19 shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs.

Five people were killed and 17 were injured. The accused was charged last week With 305 criminal cases including hate crime and murder. Aldrich’s public defender has declined to talk about the case under Colorado Judiciary rules.

The judge’s comments came during a preliminary hearing on allegations that Aldrich had kidnapped his grandparents, and they were previously under a court seal that was lifted last week.

“You’re clearly planning for something else,” Chittum told the suspect during the hearing, after the defendant testified about an affinity for shooting firearms and a history of mental health problems.

“It had nothing to do with your grandma and grandpa. It was saving all these firearms and trying to make this bomb, and making statements about other people doing some kind of shootings and involved in a big deal. And then it’s kind of what it became,” Judge said.

Chittam’s assistant Chad Dees said Friday that the judge declined to comment.

The 2021 charges against Aldrich — who stockpiled explosives and allegedly talked of plans to become the “next mass murderer” before engaging in an armed standoff with SWAT teams — were dismissed during a four-minute hearing this July was done, on which the prosecution did. Not even the logic of keeping the matter active.

Chittam, who received a letter last year from the grandparents’ relatives warning that the suspect was “certain” to commit murder if freed, granted defense attorneys’ motion to dismiss the case. because a time limit was running out to bring it to trial.

There was no discussion at that July hearing about Aldrich’s mental health treatment, violent past, or exploration of alternatives to compel Aldrich’s grandparents and mother to testify.

Details of the failed 2021 prosecution — laid out in transcripts of 13 court hearings obtained by the AP — paint a picture of possible missteps in the case against the suspect and raise more questions about whether enough was done to stop the recent mass shooting. it was done.

During the 2021 standoff, Aldrich allegedly told the horrified grandparents about the firearms and bomb-making materials in the basement of the house they all shared. Aldrich vows not to let the grandparents interfere with their plans to “go out in the fire”.

Aldrich — who is nonbinary and uses they/them pronouns — livestreamed the subsequent confrontation with SWAT teams on Facebook at the home of his mother, Laura Voepel, where the defendant eventually surrendered, according to defense attorneys. He was arrested and the weapons were confiscated. The FBI received a tip on Aldrich the day before the threat, but a few weeks later the case was closed and no federal charges were filed.

According to District Attorney Michael Allen, as of August 2021, when the suspect got out of jail, the grandparents were describing the suspect as a “sweet young” person. In two subsequent hearings, defense attorneys described how Aldrich had been attending therapy sessions for trauma, PTSD and mental health and was on lethargy-inducing drugs, transcripts show.

In an October 2021 courtroom exchange, Chittum told the suspect to “hang in there with the meds.”

“It’s definitely an adjustment period,” replied Aldrich, to which the judge replied, “Yeah, it’ll settle, don’t worry. Good luck.”

The case was headed toward a plea agreement earlier this year, but family members stopped cooperating and prosecutors successfully blocked a subpoena for Aldrich’s 69-year-old grandmother, who was incarcerated in Florida, to testify. Broke after failing to deliver.

There is little discussion in the transcripts of prosecutors’ efforts to subpoena other potential witnesses, including Aldrich’s mother, grandfather and a fourth person who is listed in court documents but not identified.

Howard Black, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, said he could not share information about the kidnapping case because it is part of an ongoing investigation. Allen has said his office did everything it could to prosecute the case, including trying to call Aldrich’s mother, but has repeatedly declined to elaborate.

Alan Dershowitz, an attorney and Harvard law professor, said violent crimes are notoriously difficult to predict, but Aldrich’s case is a rare example when the evidence for past and possible future crimes was so overwhelming that the suspect was “clearly limited.” Should have been done.”

“It doesn’t seem like a difficult case,” Dershowitz said Thursday. “This appears to be a case of prosecutorial incompetence.”

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